Another 68 lives have been taken by COVID-19, health officials reported Friday, along with 6,812 new infections.

Of the new deaths, 44 were residents of nursing homes or assisted-living facilities, which account for 69% of the 3,150 Minnesota fatalities from the new coronavirus.

So far 256,700 state residents have tested positive for the virus.

Nearly 2.3 million Minnesotans have been tested at least once for COVID-19, with 58,622 tests results reported to the Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday.

Minnesota’s hospitals are caring for 1,784 COVID-19 patients, with 369 of them requiring intensive care. Since Nov. 1, hospital patient volume has increased by nearly 1,000 additional COVID-19 cases.

As counts of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to set records nearly every day, health officials are warning that the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday could accelerate spread of the virus.

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for gatherings of family and friends, but social get-togethers have recently been one of the main drivers of COVID-19 infections.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz through an executive order limited all social gatherings to household members only. That was a change from a week earlier when he limited group sizes to 10 people from no more than three households.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention recommended that people should not travel for Thanksgiving.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm Thursday reminded state residents that people should get tested but cautioned about reading too much into a negative test result.

“We understand people’s desire to get tested and feel like then I’m safe,” she said. “With respect to does that give you a free pass for Thanksgiving? I’m afraid it doesn’t.”

Some people who get infected will not have a positive test result within one or two days of catching the virus because the test might not detect the presence of the disease in its early stages.

Malcolm said tests should be done two weeks ahead of time followed by a quarantine to see if any symptoms develop.

Even with negative test results, masks should still be worn and social distancing maintained, she said.

Complications from COVID-19 typically occur in those with underlying health conditions, including heart, lung or kidney disease.

Also, most hospitalizations and deaths are among the elderly. However, 43% of all COVID-19 hospital admissions were infected people under the age of 60, who also account for 40% of ICU patients.

Still, many people who become sickened do not develop symptoms or have mild symptoms that don’t require medical attention. Since the pandemic began, 202,432 of those infected are considered to be no longer infectious and do not need to isolate.